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Saints Lead NFL in Turnover Margin this Preseason

The Saints are already seeing the benefits of an increased emphasis on taking the ball away. If they can continue the trend into the regular season, success should be inevitable.

Andy Lyons

If there's one thing the Saints have been doing well this preseason, it's winning the turnover battle.

Through three games the Saints have created 8 takeaways and given up possession only 3 times, for a league best margin of 5.

That's right, the Saints have the best turnover margin in the league this preseason. Here are your top six NFL teams in turnover margin this preseason:

2014 Preseason Turnover Margin

Rank Team Int Fum Total Int Fum Total Net Diff
1 New Orleans 3 5 8 3 0 3 = 5
2t St. Louis 3 2 5 1 0 1 = 4
2t Jacksonville 3 4 7 3 0 3 = 4
4t Baltimore 4 2 6 1 2 3 = 3
4t Minnesota 4 0 4 1 0 1 = 3
4t New England 3 2 5 1 1 2 = 3

Yeah, okay, it's just the preseason. I get it. A lot of these turnovers happen late in the game, when the starters aren't even playing and the game is a completely different animal. These numbers have no bearing on regular season outcomes. Yada, yada, yada. Really, I get it.

But I'm still pretty excited to see this. I shouldn't have to tell you how important winning the turnover battle is in the NFL. Nor should I have to tell you that a positive turnover margin almost uniformly equals success. Last year, the six teams with the best turnover margin all made the playoffs. The team with the best turnover margin won the Super Bowl. None of that is a coincidence.

2013 Regular Season Turnover Margin

Rank Team Int Fum Total Int Fum Total Net Diff
1 Seattle 28 11 39 9 10 19 = 20
2 Kansas City 21 15 36 8 10 18 = 18
3 Indianapolis 15 12 27 10 4 14 = 13
4t San Francisco 18 12 30 8 10 18 = 12
4t Philadelphia 19 12 31 9 10 19 = 12
6 Carolina 20 10 30 13 6 19 = 11

So it's no surprise that the Saints haven't lost a game yet this preseason. Because it's hard to lose games when you're getting a few extra possessions and great field position on a regular basis. Plus, a good turnover margin can mask other minor deficiencies a team might have.

Last year the Saints were dead even in turnover margin. Not bad, but not good either. This season, it's been a point of emphasis for Rob Ryan and his defense.

"That was a glaring weakness last year on our defense. I think the effort was outstanding, our players are outstanding, we did pretty decent as a unit. But we want to be great. And to be great, you have to take the ball away."

It's great to see the benefits of this increased emphasis paying off so quickly, even if it's just the preseason. While these stats may not carry over into the regular season, I'm hoping that takeaway mentality and culture among the defense does. The rest should fall into place.